The authorities will cry foul, but you can bet American Catholics will be reading and discussing Breslin’s latest—and justly...

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THE CHURCH THAT FORGOT CHRIST

A searing indictment of the faithful against a church that has failed their faith, with legendary New York newsman Breslin driving the nails into the cathedral door.

Breslin (The Short Sweet Dream of Eduardo Gutiérrez, 2002, etc.) opens, as ever, provocatively: the Catholic Church is led by a pope who “has four subjects on his mind: abortion, abortion, abortion, and Poland”; the Catholic Church has committed gross crimes by knowingly sheltering perpetrators of crime, sexual and otherwise; the Catholic Church has thrown up false gods; the Catholic Church has forgotten the Catholic religion. So, he proposes, he’ll start a new religion, one with women priests and married heterosexual priests and a vision of a working-class Christ with no taste for fine raiment and golden trappings, with Breslin himself serving to open “the first new Catholic parish in my diocese of Brooklyn since 1972”—and taking a choice job in it. “I qualify for the rank of bishop,” he explains, “because I’m not a pedophile.” Bishop Breslin qualifies, too, because he’s Irish, and the Irish are the real rocks on which the Church is built (as opposed, he suggests, again controversially, to the Mafiosi who run the thing, at least in New York and Rome). He qualifies because he attends Mass weekly, has put in more time examining its wrongs (and occasional rights) than most working cardinals, has logged countless hours exposing the bodies under the rectory rugs, “so many . . . that walking into the diocese offices was risky for the ankles.” He qualifies because he cares. There’s not an ounce of modesty—or irony—in the proposal, and as Breslin delivers his list of charges against the Church his anger and righteous indignation mount, till by the end of this donnybrook of a book, having cited case after case of crime and betrayal, he’s in a fine and furious lather, feeling very much, he allows, like Christ among the moneychangers in the temple.

The authorities will cry foul, but you can bet American Catholics will be reading and discussing Breslin’s latest—and justly so.

Pub Date: July 6, 2004

ISBN: 0-7432-6647-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2004

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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